Tag Archives: Libraries

CILIP Bang to Rights?

Full disclosure: I did not read a certain ‘professional’ magazine article last week via a paid subscription or auto feed of its content.

What I did do was:

  • spot a few comments on social media about the article
  • go to the CILIP website, but fail to find the article within 2 minutes
  • Google ‘Dominic Cummings information professional’ and find what looked like a blog post and assume it was the same thing, and read that
  • follow-up by reading further social media comments and discussing topic with peers at a regional event in a pithy, drunken manner.

Not exactly a shining example of expertise or exemplary information literacy in action, but then again I’m not a Chartered Librarian, merely an experienced information professional with an accredited postgraduate qualification, who for many years would only have qualified for an ACLIP rather than an MCLIP because of my ‘para-professional’ status, but am currently working in a role with ‘Librarian’ in the title.

I am not perfect, far from it: but I’m not an industry body purporting to be responsible for providing leadership, governance, oversight and representation for its membership and their associates. Call me old fashioned, but I actually have high expectations of people in positions of power or authority and expect them to behave accordingly, despite now living in this TrumpianBorisianBrexitystopian nightmare.

And despite my 15+ years’ worth of antipathy, for some inexplicable reason I still expect CILIP to uphold the standards, ideals and best practices which it is supposed to promote, encourage and advocate for in order to safeguard the future of the professions. Which is why the article in question, and CILIP’s response to the criticism of it on social media, has been so deflating.

CILIP continually struggles to fulfil the requirements of the role. It needs to demonstrate the behaviours and competencies expected. It has to be capable of critical reflection and reflexivity.

  • What do I think of the article itself?

The currency of the content is limited, mixing old news with even older blog posts, tied together later on by a selection of interviews: there’s a lack of critical examination or contextualisation of any of the assertions made; it reads like an editorial rather than a ‘news story’ which is legitimate though problematic.

  • Do I think Dominic Cummings should be interviewed in Information Professional?

Of course, I believe in freedom of the press and democracy. If an industry publication wants to interview him, then interview him. Thoroughly. Ask tough, probing questions. Challenge his world view. Examine and dissect his responses. Hold him to account for his actions and inactions. Use evidence to illustrate points and counter arguments. Take personal responsibility for the resulting output.

  • Does the article endorse Cummings and/or government policy?

It reads like an editorial. It quotes the Chief Executive of CILIP, and doesn’t make clear if there are any distinctions between his views, the views of the organisation he represents, or the author of the piece. It touches upon Cumming’s opinion of the civil service which, given recent headlines, is a somewhat contentious topic functioning here as a hook for the story. The motivations for the article are unclear.

But overall, I believe the reaction to the article is more important than the article itself.

People don’t resign their membership from an organisation unless their membership meant something to them. Unless the organisation they were a member of was seen as occupying an important space or having a significant function. People don’t pay money to be a part of something collective in the first place without cause. People who aren’t members of an organisation, or who have never been a member of an organisation, don’t write blog posts or 280 character critiques about it, or raise the topic in pub-based conversations, unless the issue strikes a chord.

What CILIP does and doesn’t do matters to people across the information sectors. It matters because we need and expect a professional body which represents our best interests. It’s not going to get everything right all the time. It’s not going to be perfect. But the one thing it must be able to do is successfully maintain a relationship with both members and non-members, and right now it seems to be making mis-step after mis-step and not learning from its mistakes. Mistakes which it has been making for a long, long time.












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Hello? Is there anyone out there?

If I’m being honest, I was surprised that it wasn’t longer since my last post. Prolific I have clearly not been. I’d like to say it’s because I have been living a full, active and hugely time pressurised lifestyle, with social engagements and workplace drama constraining the opportunities for writing.

The truth is, I just wasn’t bothered.

I realised earlier this year that I had given up on creativity for creativity’s sake. Yes, I find ways of being creative in my job (no change in role btw. for those returning readers) and have ample opportunities to be so; but I had stopped expressing myself creatively through writing (both inside and outside of work) simply because I wanted to stop. And not for some awful, life impacting reasons; merely I had stopped enjoying writing. It happened during the 2nd year of my degree- a moment when I stopped loving doing the thing I thought I wanted to do for the rest of my life; and then over the years I just couldn’t bring myself to do it at all. Writing became a stick I beat myself with, like re-treading decisions and choices from the past- a reminder that I chose B instead of A, the left fork over the right.

God, I’m so over myself and this negative cycle of reflection and rumination. The truth is, I wasn’t bothered and it’s easier to not do something than choose to do it.

The other day I sat down and spent the morning writing a blog post for a work account and it felt good. Really good. It wasn’t the most amazing thing I’ve ever written: in fact I noticed how hesitant my wording and phrasing was, how I struggled to decide on a tone and delivery style, and (don’t tell anyone) how comparatively ‘relaxed’ I’ve become about nth degree editing. In a creative sense, not a professional one, obviously.

And that’s spurred me into admitting I can’t remember my password, resetting it and logging in. And here I am. Writing. Feeling incredibly guilty because I should be studying. But feeling good because I’m writing. At least until my fishcakes are cooked and then I’ll stop.

A summary.

Work is fine, in fact it has been a rewarding and eventful year, the highlights of which included: giving a conference presentation for the first time, training a new member of staff in all things ILLs for the first time, and hosting The Price Is Right for the first time.

Lowlights? Well, aside from facing the same issues as many people in the sector (money, money, money, and money; oh and a general feeling that libraries and librarians aren’t taken as seriously as they should be) there haven’t been too many. I think I could have been more productive in some areas, less so in others, but it’s all a learning experience.

Oh, and I’ve started an MA. Which so far has…


Now I’ve thought about it, one lowlight has been ‘2016’, or ‘the year the world went mad’. So mad in fact that many of the great and good decided to step off and find a new playground, sadly adding to the general sense of dispiriting awfulness that the last ten and a half months have so far been filled with.

Of course, not everyone has been feeling this way about 2016. In fact it turns out that me, my friends, family and colleagues are largely in the minority when it comes to such matters. So well done Brexiteers, Trumpeters, Honey G-ers and the rest of you nutters, sorry, ‘real hard working people overlooked and ignored by the liberal metropolitan elite’.

Hello? Is there anyone out there? These days, unless they’re visiting from Mars, I think I’d rather not know.







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